The USP Strategic Plan 2013- 2018 was launched in Tonga by the Honourable Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, on Monday, 13 May, 2013.
This was the third launch of the Strategic Plan, after Fiji in February and Solomon Islands in April.
In his welcome address, USP Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Chandra said the University was grateful for the support from its stakeholders and hoped they will continue to engage closely with USP during the implementation of the Strategic Plan.
L-R: Vice-Chancellor and President, Professor Rajesh Chandra, Tonga’s Prime Minister, Hon. Lord Tu’ivakano and Pro-Chancellor & Chair of USP Council, Mr. Ikbal Jannif during the launching ceremony held at the Molitoni Hall in Nuku’alofa.
He said that as a public university, USP has a moral imperative and a social responsibility to always seek to do better and to continuously improve in order to educate more of the citizens of its member countries and to provide better quality academic standards. He said the theme of the Strategic Plan, to move towards excellence to better serve the Pacific region and its people, reflects this.
The Strategic Plan 2013-2018, which outlines the University’s planned development for the next six years, paints a picture of USP, in light of its reputation for excellence in areas such as Climate Change, Pacific Studies, and ICT, facilitating the research needed by member countries and the calibre of graduates to drive economic growth in the region.
The Strategic Plan 2013-2018 features the following priorities:
· Learning and Teaching;
· Student Support;
· Research and Internationalization;
· Regional and Community Engagement;
· Pacific People, and Governance;
· Management, and Continuous Improvement;
· with an added priority of ICT; and
· The inclusion of Leadership in Governance.
According to Professor Chandra, the new plan has a greater and stronger focus on identifying regional campuses for significant development, placing more emphasis on postgraduate studies and regionally-relevant research, plans to make the University more entrepreneurial and USP’s role as an exemplary institution.
He said the University looks forward to working further with the government of Tonga to identify areas of potential growth where USP can provide tailored responses and specialist assistance.
The Vice-Chancellor said there is potential for more young people to study at USP in Tonga, and said he hopes enrolment will increase in the coming years. “We would like to see more and more Tongans study at USP. USP will modernize and expand its campus and centres here in Tonga not only to meet the needs of existing students, but also to open up new opportunities to a wider section of Tongan society,” he said.
“Whilst we cannot be certain what the world will look like in 2018, we can be sure that USP will be an outstanding institution; the type of excellent university that prepares young Pacific Islanders well to steer the region to prosperity.”
Pro-Chancellor and Chair of Council, Mr Ikbal Jannif, outlined the aims of the University to turn itself into a University of Excellence by its 50th anniversary in 2018, in line with the Strategic Plan.
“USP will concurrently strengthen learning, teaching and research, develop its employees, increase investment in ICT, and focus on accountability, effective leadership and improved processes to support outstanding performance that can be measured against international benchmarks,” he said.
He said the Strategic Plan calls for USP to be excellent and to promote excellence, by taking these steps to transform learning and teaching, enhance its international and regional research profile, extend leadership in regional engagement with member countries, and foster stronger partnerships and communities.
The Pro Chancellor also remarked that the development of the regional campuses is a high priority under the plan and thanked the government for giving additional 14 acres of land for the USP Tonga campus. Plans are currently being drawn up for developments in Tonga campus.
In launching the Strategic Plan, the Honourable Prime Minister, Lord Tu’ivakano, congratulated USP and conveyed the government’s well wishes for its successful implementation. He said its launching marks a new beginning for USP and a celebration of the enduring close ties between Tonga and the regional university.
“I am confident that this plan provides necessary transformational tools that will shape the University in the next six years, bearing in mind the growing desire of young people to have better education in the Pacific,” he added.
Speaking on the benefits of the Strategic Plan, Lord Tu’ivakano acknowledged the University’s aim to make USP a more inclusive environment, with facilities being modified to assist students and staff with disabilities and to ensure that education of an exceptional standard is accessible to more citizens of Tonga.
He also stated that the Tongan government strongly supports the University’s intentions to upgrade its campus in Tonga.
Lord Tu’ivakano mentioned that the Strategic Plan supports Tonga’s objectives in having a skilled and efficient public sector with USP’s Pacific Islands Centre for Public Administration (PICPA) considering ways to best support public sector development in member countries.
He added that the Plan’s emphasis on further developing technical, vocational, and community education is very relevant and more immediately beneficial and that this is an area of opportunity in Tonga.
He further added that the University’s focus on Pacific Studies provides sound expression of distinctiveness. He said the people of Tonga are very proud of the Tongan language and culture and that the plan pays attention to Pacific heritage and cultures.
“It is my hope to build on the close links between Tonga and USP, and look forward to USP’s growth and development in the coming years,” Lord Tu’ivakano said.
“The recently opened USP sub-Centre in Ha’apai is another example of the University’s commitment to accessibility. More Tongans are now able to benefit from USPNet, and I look forward to seeing how USP develops this service, enabling people in more remote areas to access information quickly and easily,” he said.
Lord Tu’ivakano said USP has a strong comparative advantage in ICT, which is an area that needs to be developed in Tonga. “The global knowledge economy offers many opportunities to Tonga, but our young people must have the requisite ICT skills,” Lord Tu’ivakanosaid.
Lord Tu’ivakano touched on USP’s plans to increase postgraduate enrollment which he said will benefit Pacific island countries on regionally-relevant issues such as climate change, saying that “we need more people from the region with postgraduate qualifications, who will stay here and help us to devise adaptation policies keeping in mind our islands survivability”.